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Author Topic: Do you feel your photos have improved proportionally to the cost of your gear?  (Read 30088 times)


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I have a 60D, 24-105mm f/4L IS, 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro, 50mm f/1.4 USM, and a 70-200mm f/4L USM.  I'm happy with the assortment of lenses, but it occurs to me that I'm not sure my photos are that much better than when I was shooting with a $150 - $200 Sony (7mp) point and shoot.

Just adding up the retail value of my gear ($4500), I'm not so sure that I'm 22X a better photographer than I was.  That's not to say I don't do a good job with my gear... I compose a shot well, I bounce light like a champ, and I get a ton of complements... but I think people take me more seriously because of the size of my camera than the relative improvement of the shots. 

I might just be having a bit of an existential crisis and I'm merely romanticizing the "quality" of my photos with the P&S... but still.  Do y'all think the gear has substantially advanced your product?
Upgrade  path.->means the former was sold for the latter.

XS->60D->5d Mkiii:18-55->24-105L:75-300->55-250->70-300->70-200 f4L USM->70-200 f/2.8L USM->70-200 f/2.8L IS Mkii:50 f/1.8->50 f/1.4->100L-> 85mm f/1.8 USM-> 8mm -> 85mm f/1.2L mkii

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1. From P&S to crop = yes
2. From crop to FF = yes

x1000 better? maybe not. However DSLR is much faster in AF = more keeper. plus much more flexible with lens choices & features. NOT just IQ, but over all.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2012, 02:56:16 PM by Dylan777 »


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sometimes reading my $15 books makes me feel like im a better photographer than my gear does.
but i sure enjoy playing with it :)
5d2 - 16-35L II- 50L - 100L


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Pareto principle might apply. You could have achieved 80% of your shots in the same quality with 20% worth of your gear. Spend 900$ to get 80% of your shots, for the rest spend 3600$ more ;-)


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Excellent question !!! Same with golfers. You're always after the latest equipment thinking it will improve something. And you always meet the other guy, playing an old second hand set, who trashes you without mercy. Passion ! A very demanding mistress. Expensive stuff won't improve my skills and talent.  But. The feeling of holding beautifully crafted pieces of engineering entices me to go out more, to take much more photos and, out of respect for the gear, pay more attention to what I am doing. Improving by numbers ! Yes, expensive gear makes me a better photographer. Somehow.       


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Really hard to say. I've been a SLR shooter most of my life, but I have seen multiple upgrades to my equipment. I think the most difficult question to answer is how much better a picture really is. A professional that charges for his photographs might be better able to calculate this, but since I rarely do paid work it's hard to put a price on quality.

In terms of bodies I went from analog AE-1 to EOS 300D - EOS40D - EOS 7D.
Going from analog to digital my pictures didn't get better but I simply could experiment much more and thus could get learn much better. The switch from the 300D to the 40D made a big visual impact on the pure quality of my pics, but not necessarily on my photographs as a whole. (MEaning I still pretty much sucked at it) The switch from the 40D to my 7D barely made an impact on quality but simply made some shots possible that I could never do with my 40D. (Since the 7D is much faster both on fps and AF) How does this translate into money value? I have no idea.

For my lenses I made a lot of adjustments. Starting with the kit lens and later the 70-300mm canon crapzoom I moved into various variations of lenses. Again, some jumps were obvious in terms of quality. Going from the crapzoom to the Sigma 70-200 2.8 was a huge difference. Not only visually but also because the zoom was much, much faster and thus allowing me to get much better sports shots. My move from the 50mm macro to Sigmas 150mm macro did not do much in terms of image quality but again made some shots possible that I simply could not do before. The largest impact visually vise came from the Sigma 85mm 1.4 That lens again made shots possible that I couldn't do before due to the very large aperture but also produces images in a quality not possible before. (Wonderful bokeh and the such) But again, how does that translate into money?

I've seen absolutely stunning photographs done with cell phone cameras and plenty of really sucky ones taken with top of the line dSLRs. The photographer is still the most important part in taken a picture, but sometimes having the right gear will make the difference between failure and success.
Canon 7D - Canon 50mm 1.8 - Canon 24-70mm 2.8 L - Canon 100-400mm 4.5-5.6 L IS - SIGMA 85mm 1.4 - SIGMA 150mm 2.8 OS Macro - SIGMA 10-20mm 3,5


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Without a doubt, I have moved from P&S through 400D through 60D and now 5DMkiii and along the way upgraded my lenses now only using Ls. I am not a pro. One of the reasons will be the gear itself, I have found it easier to take good pictures as my skills have improved as well as I have gotten my hands on better equipment. Of course today I would be able to shoot a lot better pics with the 400D than I could at the time I bought it.

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I like that question!

If I go back and see my first pictures, the ones now are seriously better, but I think that has something to do with general photographic knowledge, not the gear to an absoulte.

That being said I would without ANY doubt say , because it's a fact, that most of my pictures today couldn't have been done with anything else. How do I know that? I have bought new gear because the old didn't do it right. I've been through; 350d, 400d, 1d3+5d1, 1d4, 5d2, 5d3 and now the 1d X and I must say, the 1d X takes it all to a different level. In the short time I've had it I've gotten more funny and unseen moments, (in my pictures) than the others put together. That blows my mind.

But as we all know, that is only the body. I have no idea how many lenses I have owned, sold, traded over the years, but it is around 35-40, and my current setup is the only set of lenses that have kept up with the 1-series advantages imo. And although I can sure as hell take a good picture of my daughter (9 months) sitting on the floor with pretty much anything, but to do it at the superclean 1600 iso with the 1d X and have the 85 L II (that now has fast enough AF) makes that image something more than a snapshot, it's now a keeper, and a fun memory due to the burst of 6 images (at 12 fps) I had one with a funny expression. It's the little things.

And then I can go out, shoot a surfing contest and come home with all tack sharp images and can pick the precise moments.

For me there has been a significant step up for each lens and body, and a BIG step when combining them.

But what has made the most impact on my images is actually something else. It's a book called "Light, Science & Magic" and the "Lightning 101" over at www.strobist.com. It's when I went with wireless lights I really starting to have fun and get images like the one I saw on the "internets" and got a whole other undestanding for what it takes to make a great image.

And you'll also get a more and more trained eye and that combined with knowledge makes it very annoying (for me at least) to use gear you know could be better. If you get the images you want with what you have, that saves a lot of money.

It's when you buy your first L-lens it all goes out the window ;D

« Last Edit: August 30, 2012, 02:55:30 AM by Viggo »
1dx mkII, 35 L II, Zeiss 50 f2 mp, 85 L IS, Broncolor Siros 800 L.


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HA!  Not even CLOSE to improving my images at the ratio of the cost difference!
BUT - I now have equipment that covers almost every kind of situation I like to shoot in. No more improvising and getting so-so results; It's nice to have few hardware limitations, I have the right tools for almost every job instead of constantly adapting a limited set of resources to fill a requirement.  The latter, however, can lead to more creativity.

So, altho the technical IQ of my digital files has improved immensely over PnS digicams I used when I first went digital, the actual artistic merit part has improved only incrementally.  Part of that could be the 25 years of experience shooting film, followed by 5+ years stretching the limits of PnS digicams before I bought a 40D and entered the DSLR world with that.

The 40D was the first DSLR where i thought I was finally getting adequate features and performance for the price.

Before that I had balked at paying the price when Canon introduced the PowerShot G3.  In retrospect, if I WOULD have purchased the G3 when it was new, its outstanding IQ would have prevented me from buying a slew of cheaper compact digicams and could have delayed my DSLR purchase beyond the 40D.  My equipment path could have been quite different from what it is now.  A $1000 back then could have saved me many times more than that over the same time frame.  But all the fun I'd have missed...
FYI - I currently own 4 G3s, and use 3 of them regularly for various purposes.
Hmmmm...  :o

dr croubie

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With the $15,000 i've spent on gear (just added it up the other day for an insurance quote), i'd be saying:
- Yes, my images have improved
- No, my images haven't improved enough to make back $15,000 worth of print sales.

But there's a difference to "Quality of Images" and "Variety of Images".
When I first got my kit, it was a 7D, EFs 15-85, 70-300 non-L.
Good kit to start with, I got some great landscapes, I got some decent-ish wildlife.

Then add in a few CPLs. Not much, maybe $100. Quality of landscapes increased a lot.

But still, I couldn't take anything good indoors. So i got a nifty-fifty.
Shooting at iso3200, 1/30s, f/1.8, and pushing a bit in post, (it was really dark when I was using it), the images weren't great, but compared to using the EFs 15-85 at 50mm f/5 or so, I'd have been at maybe 1-second exposures. So in that way, after buying the niftyfifty, images got a lot better compared to what would have been possible previously.

Then I started reading about a thing called a Lensbaby, and bought a Double Glass Muse. Now, images certainly weren't any "better" than I could get with a niftyfifty, but they were "different", it's an effect not easily emulated (i hate PP-effects except rotation, sharpening, contrast, sat).

Then the 70-300L got announced, and I bought one a few months later, and sold the 70-300 non-L to my sister. Did the images come out better than the non-L? Damn straight they did. I haven't sold any, but I'm definitely of the opinion that something at 300mm would be acceptable to a buyer, but definitely wouldn't be with the non-L.

Further expanding possibilities, I got a few Pentacon Six lenses with a Tilt adapter. Did they produce better images than my 15-85 and 70-300L? Probably not, they were mostly uncoated, all max f/2.8 or 3.5, usable in the same aperture ranges as my zooms. But they added to the "different" abilities, namely tilting (i've also since got a shift-adapter, i'm too tight to just buy a tilt&shift adapter from zoerk or mirex).

Add in more fast primes as time goes on, 35/1.4, 50/1.4, 55/1.2, 85/1.8, 100/2.0. They may not produce "better" images than the first zooms, but when used in certain situations (like bugger-all light), they're better than what I could have done with what I had before (with slow apertures).

And a Sigma 8-16mm. Sure, it's great. But it didn't replace anything, it's simply adding to the focal length available to me (I could probably get "better" images stitching from a longer lens, but that's annoying and time-consuming).

And lately, an EOS 3, a Pentacon Six body, a Kiev 60 body (all for film, if you've never heard of them). Do they produce better images? I doubt it. Maybe the P6 with some Efke 25 scanned to 46MP might look good. But I could probably get better images from the 7D still.

There's one concept I'm skirting around, and in economics we call it "utility". Think of it like putting a dollar value on 'fun'. I've certainly had my $15,000 worth of utility from my kit, even if I never reclaim anything from selling any lenses or prints.

Nowadays, there's not much I *can't* take a photo of, be it wide angle, long distance, low-light, long-exposures (ie with ND filters), tilt, shift, macro, action, you name it. So my lens-buying habit has sort of died-down lately, there's not much else to buy to expand possibilities. So for me, there's only one thing left to do, is ditch the crappier lenses and buy "better" ones. And that's something I haven't started yet, because for me, the fun is in just being *able* to take the photos, not how *good* they print (because, well, i rarely print)
Too much gear, too little space.
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Mine have certainly improved, I think getting the right gear for your needs yeilds more results than just buying more and more gear with no real purpose. For instance my live music shots have improved dramatically moving from the 17-85mm kit lens I had to the 17-55mm f/2.8 that I use now. I don't think there's any substitue for practise and knoweldge about what you and your gear can do but the right gear can make all the difference.

Joseph M

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I feel that I have certainly improved. When I got a 24-105L to replace the kit lens on my 550D I started seeing improvements in my photography with the extra reach and constant f-stop. Was it proportional to the cost? I'm not entirely sure but my shots before the L upgrade all looked like they were shot with a point-and-shoot.
With that being said I did get start getting lessons on the basics at almost the same time (Photo student) but I do think that it's the confidence that came with getting new gear that pushed me to shoot more.
 I'm sure a lot of people might berate me for that but I do believe that there is a bit of truth in it. Now that I have moved to a 5D, I can visibly see that my photos and style of shooting have improved. When I started with the 550D I shot with the greenbox  :-[ for a month or two, with the 5D the first thing I did was to set all the buttons to my preferred functions knowing very well what I wanted. I still have a lot to learn though.  ;D
Oh and the 61 autofocus point is amazing  8)


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I would say that my photos have improved considerably every time I could buy better lenses. As for bodies, the steps from my first DSLR to my actual camera (400D > 40D > 7D) have resulted in better pics too, although it is more difficult to put the finger on what exactly in the picture is better because of the better camera. But higher resolution, better AF, a little less noise and better over-all handling have had a positive impact on my shooting.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2012, 05:12:05 AM by stefsan »
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Both investment in bodies and investment in lenses has resulted in my photographic output to become significantly better.

For me the effect has usually been a multiple of equipment cost. This is because I am always looking for highly specialized equipment that allows me to achieve a certain look or making a shot possible, which I could not hope to achieve without the prerequisite gear.

Mt Spokane Photography

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There is little doubt that you have to spend a lot of money to get a little improvement.  As you approach the highest quality available, the cost for miniscule inprovement goes up tremendously.
However, there are some areas of improvement such as low light or shallow depth of field that just cannot be done with point and shoot.  Wide angles are a issue as well, with 28mm equiv being the widest that most p&S cameras will do without a klutzy screw-on adapter.  Even interchangable lens mirrorless bodies seem to be limited to 24mm equiv.
If you are not pushing the extremes, or do not need the very best, a P&S is a very respectable solution.   I find most digital P&S to be much better than the $300 P&S 35mm film cameras of the 1980's. It was difficult to make a high resolution FF lens for a small body, so there was a huge compromise.

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